Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Case of the corrupt Normal.dot Microsoft Word templates

Have you ever had a problem with Microsoft Word where you cannot print a document, or you cannot save a file, or you make an edit to a document only to find out later that Word didn't save any of the edits even though you KNOW that you did save the file? What may be more strange is that you don't have the same issue with any other Microsoft Office apps such as PowerPoint or Excel. Instead, maybe you get error pop-ups that say:

"The folder already contains a file named Normal.dot. Would you like to replace the file?"
"This file is in use by another application or user. C:\Documents and Settings\...\normal.dot).
"Word cannot open the existing (Normal.dot)"

What is the NORMAL.DOT file anyways? It is a standard document template that is used by Microsoft Word. What is it's purpose? From office.Microsoft.com "the Normal template opens whenever you start Word, and it includes default styles, AutoText, macros, toolbars, and other customizations that determine the basic look of your document." Basically, this is one of the core files that Word uses when it launches.

Unfortunately, the normal.dot template files can become corrupt just like any other file. Some examples of issues caused by a corrupt NORMAL.DOT template may be problems trying to print documents from Word, or issues trying to edit a document, or even trying to save a document. Also, because Word is the default mail editor for Microsoft Outlook, Outlook may even start giving you problems when trying to send an email or reply to one. Fixing the problem with the normal.dot template is pretty easy - Delete the NORMAL.DOT and NORMAL.DOTM template files from the computer, then restart Word. When Word starts up it will create a new copy of the NORMAL.DOT template on its own.

You can find the NORMAL.DOT files quickly by opening the command line and typing:

%appdata%\Microsoft\Templates

Just make sure that you can view hidden files and delete all files names NORMAL.DOT and NORMAL.DOTM (including the hidden locked files) then restart MS Word, and\or Outlook. Problem fixed!